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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dutch Set for Yugoslav Surprise in Quarterfinal




HOENDERLOO, Netherlands -- After Spain showed such spunk in rescuing its quarterfinal hopes, the Dutch are silently giving thanks they will be facing Yugoslavia instead in the knockout phase.


With its 3-2 win Wednesday over France's shadow team f composed of mostly reserve players f the Netherlands won Group D, ensuring not only they would play out the round of eight on home turf, but also that they would meet Group C runner-up Yugoslavia.


It also left reigning World Cup champion France to face Spain in Bruges, Belgium.


A tough, resilient Spanish side scored two goals in injury time to clinch a dramatic 4-3 victory over Yugoslavia earlier in the day, earning both sides quarterfinal berths and knocking out Norway and Slovenia in the process.


Ever dangerous, the Spaniards are bound to be an ever greater threat, inflamed by their late goals and last-minute salvation.


While Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard felt there was little difference between Spain and Yugoslavia, the players definitely felt they got the better end of the deal.


"It certainly won't be easy against the Yugoslavs. You think you've killed them off and they go and score. But they've been burdened with red and yellow cards," said veteran defender and team captain Frank de Boer.


"I think Spain would be much harder," he continued. "If you look at yesterday's game I think you'd say there was more quality in the Spanish side. The Spaniards are definitely the tougher opponent."


De Boer's sentiment is echoed by many on the team, though most of the players know Yugoslavia can be unpredictable f even when shorthanded.


Yugoslavia's most recent proof of that came when it rallied back from 3-0 down with only 10 men to get a draw with Slovenia in their opener.


"You never know what to expect, what the team is going to fire at you," said Boudewijn Zenden.


"They're not in the last eight for nothing."


"They are very dangerous," agreed goalkeeper Sander Westerveld.


"They can concede a lot of goals, but they can also create a lot of chances and score a lot of goals, too."


The team knows what it's talking about.


When the two countries last met in the World Cup finals in France in 1998, the Dutch team barely scraped past the Yugoslav side thanks to a spectacular, long-range penalty shot by Edgar Davids in the final minute.


The quarterfinal on Sunday could prove to be a grudge match for Yugoslavia.


"There could be an element of revenge for them," acknowledged De Boer.


But the Yugoslavs are unconcerned about their last defeat at the hands of the Dutch two years ago, and appear unimpressed with the current Dutch side.


"I think the Dutch national team was better two years ago than it is now," said Yugoslavia coach Vujadin Boskov. "However, they are still very good and we have to respect them 100 percent.


"But my players have a great motivation against the Netherlands because of a loss at the last World Cup."